If you want to know what an antique is worth, a free antique appraisal from an online company might be enough to satisfy your curiosity. These appraisals can be a great starting point for most people.
However, there are drawbacks to consider before taking an online appraisal as the absolute truth. Make sure you read about the limitations of free appraisals after you sort through these highly-rated online appraisal resources.
What Is an Antique Appraisal?
An antique appraisal is a professional evaluation of the value, quality, and history of an antique or vintage item. Antique appraisals are often conducted by experts in the field, like antique dealers, museum curators, certified appraisers, and historians.
Their purpose is to provide a detailed assessment of an item’s worth. These written appraisals can be used for insurance purposes, estate planning, or selling or donating the item. An antique appraisal (that you pay for) typically includes:
- A thorough examination of the item
- Research into its provenance and history
- A comparison to similar items on the market
- Photographs and a detailed description of the item
- An estimated value based on current market trends and demand
Free online appraisals generally aren’t this detailed and should not be used for insurance purposes.
Replacement value: This is the cost of replacing an item with a “new” one that is similar in quality and condition.
Retail value: This is the price that an item would typically sell for at an antique shop or antique mall.
Wholesale value: This is the price that an antique dealer or pawn shop owner would pay for an item. These business owners would then resell the antique.
Auction value: This is the price that an item is expected to sell for at an auction. Auction values can vary widely depending on the item and the specific auction it is being sold at.
Free Online Antique Appraisers
Here are some popular websites that offer free online appraisals. Use these resources when you want a rough value estimate for resale.
AntiqForum provides free price guides and appraisals on certain antiques. They specialize in Meissen, Royal Vienna, Royal Worcester, and other decorative antiques. Look for the item in question on their database, then email them for a free appraisal. Remember that this website also buys antiques, which could be a conflict of interest. The assessment might be based on a wholesale value instead of an accurate market value.
Appraisily offers modern online antique appraisals, streamlining the process for users looking to discover the value of their cherished items. Their online service is designed to be swift and stress-free, allowing users to quickly determine the true worth of their collectibles. They have a team of experts dedicated to offering accurate insights, ensuring you’re well-informed about your antique’s market value.
If you think your antique is worth more than a couple thousand dollars, consider getting a high-end auction estimate through Christie’s online valuation form. Remember that an auction estimate is much different than a replacement value. Also, the estimate is not a guarantee of the price. If you sell at auction, the item could sell for much higher or lower than the estimate.
Gannon’s Antiques and Art
This sizeable antique gallery is located in Florida, and they will provide free appraisals on antique furniture, jewelry, Asian antiques, and entire estates. The appraisal service at Gannon’s is free, but the information you get will be limited. This company also buys antiques, so take the value with a grain of salt.
This online community helps users find the value of antiques for free. InstAppraisal allows people to post their antiques and ask specific questions regarding history, origin, and value. Just so you know, anyone can join and respond to inquiries, so the opinions might not be accurate or up to date. This free online appraisal option is ideal if you only want a price range on a low-value item. Higher-value items will need additional expert input for the actual value.
You can get a free online appraisal from Mr. Expert if you have an item within their range of expertise. They will value fine art, furniture, and 26 other categories on their website. If the object is worthwhile, this company will act as a middleman and get you in touch with the appropriate auction house or dealer to sell your item for top dollar.
Most antique appraisers start their search on a site like WorthPoint. This website is an online database with more than 540 million antique prices and thousands of expert articles. You can sign up for a free trial to access this expert information. It might take you longer to research using this website, but you’ll have an in-depth understanding of your antique and its worth.
Auction House Antique Appraisals
Drawbacks of Free Appraisals
For important and sentimental items, I recommend contacting multiple sources to verify an antique’s value and authenticity. While free antique appraisals can be a convenient and cost-effective option, it’s important to be aware of the potential drawbacks and limitations of these evaluations.
Consider the following—and while I might be repeating myself, I think these distinctions are essential. Many customers I’ve dealt with over the years mistook an offer to buy as the retail value of their collections.
The value might not be accurate.
Free antique appraisals tend to be less accurate than ones that cost money. Experts spend more time researching items for insurance appraisals, and you’re more likely to find someone with extensive knowledge when you pay. Many people who offer free antique estimates also buy antiques, which is a conflict of interest.
Free appraisals won’t work for insurance purposes.
If you have an antique you want to insure, you’ll need written certification from a reputable source. You’ll need to pay the appraiser for their time in these instances. Contact your insurance company and find out what they require to have your antiques insured.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most times, yes. If so, free online appraisal options won’t be enough. You’ll need to pay for a written assessment from a qualified antique expert.
High-value antiques tend to have a broader price range. For example, a replacement value could differ significantly from an auction value. If you think the antique’s price is high, get more than one opinion, and make sure they tell you what the value means. Does the value mean you can sell the item to a dealer for that amount? Or does it mean you can only insure the item for this price?
Both types of antique appraisals have their pros and cons. If you want to figure out the general value of an antique or sell a lower-value antique, start with a free antique appraisal (or appraise the item without an expert or search eBay sold listings). If you need to insure an antique or sell something more expensive, consider getting a written, certified appraisal. Good luck!